Technology Libertarianism: The Hands-Off Approach To IT That Fuels Technology Populism

One of the themes of my research has been how information worker adoption of technology in general, and collaboration technology specifically, affects IT decision-making. Inevitably, this has led me down the path of studying the phenomenon of rank-and-file employees provisioning their own technology outside the auspices of IT – a phenomenon Forrester labels Technology Populism (though I won’t kick if you want to call it “consumerization of IT”). Very shortly, I’ll be publishing a report that shows not only is Technology Populism a reality, but that it is affecting how technology is officially adopted by businesses. What our data shows is that sizable portions of the information workforce played a role in the selection of their desktop computer (13%), laptop computer (33%) and smartphones (66%). This got me thinking about what this means for technology decision-making in business.

We at Forrester often talk about the transition of IT to BT (Business Technology) – which is our shorthand for talking about lines of business taking a central role in the selection and management of technology. It reflects a need for technology decisions to be oriented toward business outcomes and for business leaders to have greater say in picking the tools their employees use. But this is still a high-level story: it is a tale of executives picking technology for the end user. Technology Populism is specifically about end users taking on this role; and that businesses are seeing benefits (re: cost savings) in allowing this suggests that there may be another concept here beyond IT to BT.

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Co-Authoring In Microsoft Office 2010: Solving For Version Control Issues

In the fanfare surrounding Microsoft’s unveiling of Office and SharePoint 2010, the co-authoring capability Microsoft is offering in OneNote, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel stood out. Put simply, co-authoring is the ability of multiple people to work synchronously on a document. Microsoft has built a number of features to make real-time editing work: notification of who is working on the document and integration with OCS to facilitate conversations; locking of sections to editing; and a “save to share” feature that reconciles changes between editors after they’ve finished, to name a few. However, lost in this talk of real-time document collaboration is a more basic need that I believe Microsoft is actually solving (hinted at in the title of this post).

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A Degree In SharePoint? Microsoft’s Live@edu Offers SharePoint Services To College Kids

Yesterday evening, Microsoft announced at the 2009 Annual Educause Conference that they would be rolling out SharePoint-based collaboration and productivity services for universities via Live@edu. While this news arrived quietly at a conference to which collaboration software vendor strategists rarely pay attention, it is potentially game changing in the collaboration platform space. Let me say that again: the fact that Microsoft is getting SharePoint in the hands of the future business leaders of America (and beyond) during their formative years is potentially HUGE. But let’s back up for a second and bring everyone up to speed. For those unfamiliar, Live@edu is Microsoft’s hosted email and collaboration suite targeted at universities. It’s a free service that in the last four months saw over 5,000 schools sign up. One of the underlying goals of Live@edu is to get college students ready for the real world by letting them play with Microsoft tools in college.

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Gen Yers Won’t Make Companies Collaborative – Tools Integrated Into Business Processes Will

A few weeks ago, my colleage Ted Schadler caused a bit of a stir when he revealed – shockingly! – Gen Xers were actually leading the social technology revolution for information and knowledge management – not Gen Yers. I want to double down on this idea: Gen Yers aren’t driving the business use of any collaboration technologies. In a report that I’ve just completed, we show that despite their much ballyhooed technical savvy, Gen Yers are just as apathetic toward all of the fancy new collaboration software – like web conferencing and team workspaces – as their older colleagues. You’ll note I said “apathetic.” Well, beyond email and calendars, information workers really aren’t using these tools. If that gives strategists and marketers at the software giants that produce these tools pause, the fact that Gen Yers still see their organizations as collaborative, even though they don’t use “collaboration tools,” should be alarming.

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Gen Y and the Future of the Workplace: Recapping Our Discussion With Forrester Clients

Followers of my posts on this blog have seen a consistent theme: what does the influx of young workers mean for the present and future business world? Yesterday afternoon my colleagues Clarie Schooley and Heidi Shey joined me in hosting 82 Forrester clients for an open and frank discussion on this topic. The conversation, which included participants across the age spectrum, was spirited and landed on a few broad concepts:

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Gen Y’s Effect On Business Social Technology Isn’t As Big As Some Have Said

Here’s a funny finding: The youngest members of the workforce aren’t the drivers of social technology use in business. How can this be? Haven’t we been told that the generation that made MySpace and Facebook popular would be the one that dragged stodgy, old companies kicking and screaming into a 21st century where corporate hierarchy is flattened through Web 2.0? Don’t companies need to adopt wikis and blogs in order to recruit and retain Gen Yers? Well, the early returns say the answer is, “no.”

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What Does Gen Y In The Workforce Really Mean?

Recently, I was on a call where a senior executive wondered whether or not kids entering the workforce in the next 5 years can write complete sentences now that everyone texts. For me, this is another example in an old story: fear (and some loathing) of Gen Y’s entrance into the workplace.  And frankly, as a 20-something, I think a lot of it is unfounded.

At no time is this fear more clear than when the conversation turns to approaches and technologies related to collaboration and Web 2.0 – areas that I cover for vendor strategy professionals. At this point I think I’ve heard it all. “Gen Y is bringing in unsecure consumer technology!” “We have to adopt wikis and social networks to recruit college graduates!” “Email is dead because the kids don’t use it!” Being a good sport about this, I’ve tried to shrug it off as the typical complaining one generation does about its kids. But the longer I cover this space, the more I believe this isn’t going away for two reasons:

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